Widening the Aperture: Using Visual Methods to Broaden Our Understanding of Outdoor Identity

Ms Sandy Allen-Craig1, Professor Tonia Gray2, Ms Rylie Charles3
1acu, Melbourne, Australia; 2Western Sydney university, Australia; 3Western Sydney university, Australia


Attempts to embed a social-responsive culture in the outdoor profession have moved at seemingly glacial speed (Gray, 2018), despite proponents of the outdoor profession espousing the beneficial outcomes to include the promotion of social justice, equity, diversity and inclusivity (Warren, Roberts, Breunig & Alvarez, 2014).
We invite delegates to engage in a creative experience, as we offer fresh approaches to address prevailing social injustices. In our workshop, we provide the opportunity to creatively explore outdoor embodiment/identity through visual arts-based methods (VABM). Irrespective of ethnicity, age, gender, ability, culture or race, visual storytelling allows for a universal communication to materialize (Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2018).
Delegates will be asked to collectively reflect on the prevalent view of an outdoor leader by drawing and collating images (Warren, 2009). Participants will go on to critically explore their personal embodiment/identity through the reflexive influence of the ‘thinking hand’ by working with interdisciplinary artistic means of sculpture, collage/mosaic, 3D art and textiles to remove preconceived expectations with common arts-based methods. Engaging in this creative experience, participants we will explore how VABM attempts to illuminate these ongoing issues. The aim of this presentation is to showcase how VABM are useful to provide activism and agency, and act as an interdisciplinary social science research modality. We invite participants to consent to being involved in our research by sharing their artistic pieces and record their description of engaging in this experience, and how it could be implemented in future OE practice.
We conclude diverse methodologies and methods can expand our perceptions and knowledge of outdoor embodiment, as well as our ability to listen and learn from others. In particular, VABM act as a constructive tool to develop identity, to envision personal perspectives beyond the dominant discourse of what it means to be in the outdoor profession.

Sandy Allen-Craig
Sandy is a Senior Lecturer in Outdoor Leadership at the Australian Catholic University. She has developed and implemented courses of Outdoor Education at the national tertiary level for over 30 years. She is a published academic conducting research into the conditions of outdoor employment, program outcomes, risk management, bush adventure therapy and gender equity within the Outdoor profession. She is currently the Deputy Chair of Outdoors Victoria, an Executive Member of Outdoor Education Australia and an Associate Editor of Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education.

Tonia Gray
Tonia Gray, PhD is a Senior Researcher in the Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University. As a researcher, teacher-educator, and curriculum developer of Outdoor Education and Health/Physical Education for over 30 years her transdisciplinary research explores human-nature relationships and their impact on health and well-being. She is currently Chair of the Australian Tertiary Outdoor Education Network (ATOEN) and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education.

Rylie Charles
Rylie Charles is an Outdoor Education graduate from the Australian Catholic University and is currently studying a Master of Philosophy (Education) at Western Sydney University. Her research topic focuses on gender inclusive leadership in higher degree Outdoor Education. She also works as a freelance outdoor leader and loves to share her experiences in the outdoors with others.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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